MTV Head Touts Network's Ability to 'Inspire' Youth
By Monisha Bansal
CNSNews.com Staff Writer
April 28, 2006
(CNSNews.com) - MTV (Music Television) has "empowered and educated" America's youth for the last 25 years, according to Christina Norman, president of MTV networks, who added during a speech at the National Press Club Thursday that her organization's role is also to "inspire a generation."
"We take that very seriously," she said.
A spokeswoman from the culturally conservative Family Research Council (FRC) scoffed at Norman's statements. FRC Vice President Charmaine Yoest, told Cybercast News Service that MTV is guilty of "pumping raw sewage into our culture" and said "having MTV celebrate themselves as the educators of youth is a little bit like the mafia going into gun safety training."
Reaching 440 million households, MTV is extremely popular among younger crowds. MTV's target audience is the 12 to 34 set, a demographic which marketers and other media outlets are desperate to woo.
"We entertain them every day and never talk down to them. It also gives us the opportunity to discuss important issues with them," said Norman.
Among those important issues are politics, discrimination, sexuality and sexual health, alleged genocide in Sudan, and the Hurricane Katrina recovery.
"It is our mission at MTV and it is our privilege to focus their revolutionary energy and build tomorrow's leaders," Norman said Thursday, by engaging, educating and empowering youth through activism.
"Leadership has come to mean action," she said, noting that young people are increasingly involved in volunteer projects and civic activism.
Norman pointed to programming like the "Real World," which she said places seven strangers in a house for one season, deals with real issues and in turn can become "a channel-wide pro-social campaign."
The "Real World San Francisco" programs in 1994 allowed cast member Pedro Zamora to become the first openly homosexual and HIV positive character on television, Norman said.
Whitney Matheson, pop culture columnist for USA Today, wrote in her blog Thursday that MTV is one of the "worst things to ever happen to music." She said we can "blame the network for contributing to the music industry's emphasis on style over substance."
Yoest said MTV is partly responsible for the erosion of traditional family values in America. "Turn on MTV for two seconds and you have to take a bath," she said.
"If they want to get involved in issues of social responsibility, they need to start by cleaning up their everyday programming. Their depiction of women as prostitutes and men as pimps - the misogynistic violence that is depicted daily - it is inexcusable," Yoest said. "None of this sort of political programming in any way atones for that."